Artisan farmers

Even the artisan farmers, working in direct contact with the earth for generations, have not escaped the race for progress. "Farm policy is now set by some dubious economic strategies, and it has eliminated most of the self-sufficient family farms that used to be the life of the rural landscape and rural towns." The artisan farmers, in bondage to the market, "have become business people, going into debt, always having to produce more with fewer and fewer people and at the lowest cost for unpredictable export markets.

"All over the world, vast stretches of land have been transformed into monocultures, with every tree eliminated to make room for enormous, heavy-gauge machinery." To be able to keep taking from the earth without letting it rest, they put all kinds of poisons into it. The soil is exhausted by the number of crops they sow, and saturated with chemical fertilizers. The seed varieties being grown are vulnerable because they lack diversity, and they are drowned in chemical herbicides and pesticides. Genetically modified seed forces farmers to adopt practices that destroy the natural environment, condemn wildlife and threaten human health. Contemplating these fields, mutilated by overuse, Frédéric Back worries that future generations will not be able to feed themselves, or find meaning in their lives, in the face of "these vast silent spaces where there is no sign of life, where no birds sing, nothing..."